NAGC Urges States to Enact Policies to Support High-Ability Learners

New Report Points to Uneven State-Level Policies on Student Access to Services, Teacher Training and Public Accountability

WASHINGTON--()--State laws and policies on high-ability and high-potential students vary greatly and, in many states, hinder gifted students from receiving access to needed services and resources, a biennial survey of state education policies released today shows.

The State of the States of Gifted Education, prepared by the National Association for Gifted Children – the nation’s leading advocate for high-achieving and high-potential learners – and the Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted, depicts a fragmented policy landscape in which most states underfund or do not fund at all their gifted education obligations. It also shows that many states have laws or policies that obstruct access or that default to local school districts on such issues, creating even more gaps in services.

“Despite pockets of strength, our nation by and large continues to neglect the needs of our high-achieving and high-potential students to the detriment of our future prosperity,” said NAGC President Tracy L. Cross, Jody & Layton Smith Professor of Psychology and Gifted Education in the School of Education and executive director of the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. “Until we ensure these students receive an education that maximizes their talent and supports them in achieving at the highest levels, we will continue to fall farther and farther behind our global competitors.

“As this year’s report underscores, states can play an important role and must take action to expand student access to needed services and supports, produce better trained teachers to work with these learners and enhance public accountability,” Cross added.

Of the 44 states and territories that took this year’s survey, 32 have laws or polices that require districts to identify and/or serve high-ability students, yet only four of these states completely fund this obligation. Fourteen states provide no funding, and of those states that provide some funding but do not fully fund the obligation, the level of support varies greatly. Beyond funding, states set policies on teacher training, student access to services and reporting and public accountability, all areas where many can improve.

For example, even though the regular classroom is one of the most common service settings for gifted students, only one state – Kentucky – requires that all teachers be exposed to the nature and needs of gifted students before they enter the classroom. On a more positive note, 25 states are making changes in teacher training and/or their curriculum for high-achieving students to align with the Common Core State Standards.

Only nine states have policies permitting students to accelerate or move ahead by a grade or course if they are academically prepared to do so. Three states have policies that prohibit middle school students from also being enrolled in high school courses, and three states have policies that prohibit advanced students from being promoted to a higher grade based on demonstrated proficiency of a subject. Many state policies are silent on access issues, punting these decisions to local districts and creating high variability across districts and even within communities.

State monitoring and reporting of local districts’ gifted education activity also varies considerably. According to State of the States, 17 states do not collect data about their gifted student population, while nine states report on the learning gains or the performance of gifted students as a separate group on district report cards or other reporting forms. Only 10 states publish an annual report on gifted education.

“Instituting stronger training and professional education requirements for our teachers, removing barriers obstructing student access to gifted education services and enhancing public accountability of gifted education programming are actions states can take now to improve the situation for high-achieving and high-potential students,” Cross said.

For the full State of the States report, visit


for National Association for Gifted Children
Nick Manetto, 202-312-7499

Release Summary

A new survey shows major gaps in state policies to support high-ability and high-potential students. NAGC urges states to better train teachers, enhance access to services and expand reporting.


for National Association for Gifted Children
Nick Manetto, 202-312-7499